Norlander, Erik - Hommage Symphonique

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Think Tank Media
Catalog Number: TTMD-1052
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:22:00

It was ten years ago when Erik Norlander gave us his very first solo album Threshold. Before that Erik had been collaborating with his band Rocket Scientists as well as with the love of his life, Lana Lane. Having worked together with some of the best musicians you can think of and having produced loads of albums over the years, Norlander has become a master in sound and production. He masters the synthesizer like few have done before him and has an incredible ear for the right sound in the right place. Although Erik has progressed, he still remains very humble and still looks up to his great examples such as Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson.

Maybe because his wife Lana Lane has delivered a stack of cover versions over the years, Erik probably thought it wouldn't be such a bad idea to pay tribute to his heroes in a similar way. However rather than go for the logical songs, he came up with eight very refined compositions, almost covering the entire spectrum of the big names of prog. Strangely enough no Genesis nor Pink Floyd but probably to everyone's amazement Chuck Mangione is included with a brilliant rendition of his "Children Of Sanchez Overture." I feel rather relieved by this because, although being a huge prog fan, I have always been into the earlier work of Gino Vannelli as well as most of Chuck Mangione's work. I always thought this choice wouldn't be accepted by the prog community, though now my fears seem to have been in vain! Going for a song like "Children Of Sanchez" automatically urges you to include brass, so next to the nucleus of four players, Erik Norlander has also included some guest musicians such as Jon Pappenbrook on trumpets and flugelhorn, Eric Jorgensen on trombones, David Schiff on woodwinds and Mike Alvarez on cello. Needless to say these guys lift the arrangements to another level.

We should most certainly not forget the incredible vocal talents of Kelly Keeling. I have been a fan of his earlier work with Erik and must say he's yet again a highlight on this album whether he has to tackle the high pitch of Jon Anderson or the unique timbre of Gary Brooker. Another plus no doubt is the fact that Norlander doesn't imitate the well known solos note by note, but does give it his own interpretation without losing the plot at all. Rather than go for the obvious songs he has chosen the kind of tracks he really likes listening to, regardless whether these contain huge amounts of keyboards. In fact, the challenge here has been to replace certain instruments by keyboards as he does in "Turn Of The Century" where he replaces Steve Howe's guitar with piano. That's inventive and daring at the same time, as surely we all know these songs so well that it virtually is sacrilege to even think of re-arranging bits and pieces. Instead of delivering a cover album that you'll only play once, Erik Norlander's Hommage Symphonique has become a pleasant "greatest hits of prog" album with a twist, and we all know what happened in the sixties when the "twist" changed the world forever!

Distributed in the US by ProgRock Records; released in Japan by Avalon

Conquistador (4:10) / Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight (7:20) / Turn Of The Century (7:41) / Pirates (13:35) / Clasp (4:53) / King Of The Universe (7:13) / Children Of The Sanchez Overture (9:26) / Starless (12:04)

Erik Norlander - keyboards
Kelly Keeling - vocals
Gregg Bisonette - drums
Don Schiff - NS/Stick, bowed guitar, contrabass
Mark McCrite - guitars
David Schiff - woodwinds
Jon Papenbrook - trumpets, flugelhorns
Eric Jorgensen - trombones
Mike Alvarez - celli


Rocket Scientists - Earthbound (1993) (OOP)
Rocket Scientists - Brutal Architecture (1995)
Threshold (1997)
Rocket Scientists - Earth Below And Sky Above (1998)
Rocket Scientists - Oblivion Days (1999)
Into The Sunset (2000)
Music Machine (2003)
Threshold - Special Edition (2004)
Stars Rain Down (2004)
Seas Of Orion (2004)
Rocket Scientists - Revolution Road (2006)
Hommage Symphonique (2006/2007)
Rocket Scientists - Looking Backward (2007)
The Galactic Collective (2010)

Live At St. Petersburg (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 20th 2007
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg
Artist website:
Hits: 4999
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]